CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks entered play on Sunday night with a chance to clinch their ninth consecutive playoff appearance with a win over the Colorado Avalanche, and some help from some others. Despite trailing the Avalanche 3-1 entering the third period, the Blackhawks would do what the Blackhawks do best, find a way.
Five unanswered goals in the third period would be enough to give the ‘Hawks a 6-3 victory over the Avalanche on Sunday evening in front of a sold-out United Center crowd. Later on Sunday evening the Blackhawks got some help from the Calgary Flames, who defeated the Los Angeles Kings, clinching the Blackhawks ninth consecutive playoff appearance.
The Blackhawks also got some help from the Winnipeg Jets after they beat the Minnesota Wild on Sunday, helping the Blackhawks extend their lead over the Wild to seven points for the top spot in both the Central Division as well as the Western Conference with an even 10 games remaining on the 2016-2017 regular season schedule. The Blackhawks now sit at 47-20-5 this season, with 99 points, and are the first team in the Western Conference to clinch a playoff berth this season, joining the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets of the Eastern Conference as the only three to do so thus far.
Artemi Panarin and Richard Panik contributed the game-tying (Panik), and game-winning goals (Panarin) in the third period for the Blackhawks, while Jonathan Toews who has been as hot as anyone lately, recorded a pair of goals in the period for the Blackhawks. Patrick Kane recorded a goal and an assist on the evening, while rookie Nick Schmaltz added two helpers for the ‘Hawks on the evening.
The Blackhawks nine consecutive playoff appearances is the third longest active streak in the NHL, behind the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Of course, the Red Wings are currently on the outside looking in on the Eastern Conference playoff race, so if all remains the same at the end of the season, the Blackhawks will move into second behind only Pittsburgh in that category.
Patrick Kane, who notched a goal and an assist on Sunday night, now has 32 goals and 47 assists on the season for the Blackhawks, and is currently tied with Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins with 79 points each, with both Kane and Marchand just one point behind Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid who both currently have 80 points, for the league’s scoring title race. Kane is looking to win the NHL scoring title for the second consecutive season.
From the Trainers Room
Marian Hossa missed his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury, but isn’t expected to miss an extended period of time. Defenseman Johnny Oduya missed Sunday night’s game as well, ‘Hawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville said that the night off was scheduled so that Oduya could get some extra rest down the stretch.
Next up for the Blackhawks is a home date with the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday evening. The Blackhawks are a perfect 2-0 versus the Canucks to this point, puck-drop is set for 7:30 pm (CT) and you can catch the action on CSN-Chicago (TV) and WGN-720AM (Radio).